Despite the complicated situation due to Covid-19, in Italy it is time to go back to school! On September 14th, most students of all levels have returned to school. And we can only wish them all a stimulating and enriching year!
The closure of schools imposed by the epidemic emergency has produced an increase in inequalities among children belonging to more fragile socio-economic environments: more than one third of children living in southern Italy in families with a low level of education do not have access to a PC or tablet.
Moreover, the situation imposed by the restrictions has led to an even more evident difficulty in the work-life balance, especially for women. In fact, due to the situation due to Covid19, 38.3% of working mothers (42.6% in the case of mothers of children from 0 to 5 years of age) have changed the working hours plan to meet family needs, while fathers who have done the same are 11.9% and 12.6% respectively.
In addition to the strong impact that distance learning has caused from the point of view of inequalities, the educational level has necessarily been compromised. Distance teaching cannot replace an educational relationship that develops in the classroom, where students and teachers communicate with each other not only using words, books, videos or other technological tools, but especially through their gazes, their physical presence and all the elements of interaction and relationships.
This is one of the “positive” outcomes of the pandemic: it has contributed to highlight the central role that educational services play in the territories. Human beings learn from interaction with others and this is also one of the central elements of the Antirumours Strategy (AR), promoted by the Intercultural Cities Programme of the Council of Europe. The AR approach aims to strengthen the level of awareness about the need to counter prejudices and rumours related to diversity that can hinder positive interaction and social cohesion and can lay the foundation for discriminatory and racist attitudes.
Schools and educational centers play a central role in developing a better vision of plurality and differences and are key places for implementing the anti-rumours approach.
The Italian Network of Intercultural Cities (Città del dialogo) has maintained its commitment against rumours and systematised its know-how on the anti-rumours approach in the educational field by launching a dedicated manual.
So good luck to all Italian students and teachers!
We wish you a new school year free from rumours, because Covid-19 is not the only contagious virus we are not yet able to counter. Even if stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination can be contagious we already have a vaccine against them: it is our critical thinking!
*The document collects the experiences implemented by ICEI in 4 different cities belonging to the Network of Cities of Dialogue (or about to join): Milan, Turin, Albano Laziale and Palermo. #IORISPETTO has been funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and promoted by ICEI together with CIFA (Lead Partner), Amnesty International Italia, COREP - Social Community Theatre, AMMI - Associazione Multietnica Mediatori Interculturali and the Municipalities of Turin, Milan, Albano Laziale and Palermo. The publication of the Antirumours manual was supported by the Intercultural Cities Program (ICC) of the Council of Europe. It will be soon available in English